Vilcabamba offers perfect weather for hiking and horseback riding, as well as access to remote sections of Parque Nacional Podocarpus, but it’s also an excellent place to chill. Legions of specialists are ready to facilitate your relaxation with inexpensive massages, pedicures and meditation sessions.
Most naturalists and horse guides charge about $15 for one to two hours, $25 for four and $35 for the whole day.
Most hotels have hiking trail maps; some even have their own trail systems. Many area hikes are on private land, and you may need to pay a nominal fee ($1 to $2) to use the trail.
The Cerro Mandango trail ascends the distinctive peak west of town and takes four hours out and back. Ask locally about hiking independently, as it has been considered safe for a while now, but there were some tourist robberies on the ascent some years ago. Heading into Parque Nacional Podocarpus from the Río Yambala west of town, there’s a long five- to eight-hour hike to a waterfall known as Cascada el Palto. For an afternoon spin, consider the quick hike out to Agua de Hierro, a small natural spring – signs will take you there. The 40-hectare Rumi-Wilco Ecolodge (donation accepted) has many excellently signed trails ranging from one to three hours in length.